Bulls

Bulls' draft pick Mirotic opens up in interview

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Bulls' draft pick Mirotic opens up in interview

Unlike his fellow 2011 first-rounder Jimmy Butler, who played just up the road at Milwaukee's Marquette University in the Big East Conference, not much is known about Bulls draft pick Nikola Mirotic.

The 6-foot-10 forward revealed he was pleased by the Bulls' decision to draft him in a recent interview by Spain-based basketball news outlet HoopsHype.com.

"I was thrilled by the Chicago option. I had talked with them and I was thrilled and attracted by this possibility. So I stayed in the draft because of Chicago," said Mirotic, who told the site he learned of the Bulls' interest "maybe two to three weeks before the draft."

"You can never be 100 percent sure, but I kind of knew they were going to pick me."

Since the draft, Mirotic hasn't second-guessed his decision to remain in the draft.

"I was very happy. I spoke with Bulls director of international scouting Ivica Dukan, whos Croatian, and I was very thrilled. I think its a team thats growing and has a lot of young players. Time will tell exactly when I go over there or if I go. Right now, Im happy and I want to reach my goals here," he continued. "They have a great history and they are building a great team. Of course, I like the coach and the manager is Croatian and Im familiar with him. So my decision to stay in the draft was perfect.

"I re-signed for five years with an NBA out. Well see what happens. I still cant tell if Im leaving in two, three, four or five years. Im thinking about this year right now. I cant tell how long Im going to stay," added the Real Madrid forward, who did not play on Spain's gold-medalist EuroBasket squad, as the champions opted to use Thunder forward Serge Ibaka as their team's allotted naturalized citizen. "I would like to make that jump to the NBA."

As for his NBA readiness, Mirotic takes on a humble approach, despite having garnered rave reviews for his continued development over the past year and change.

"I see myself as a power forward, but one that can play outside and shoot the three, go to the hole," said Mirotic, the MVP of the FIBA Under-20 European Championships for titlist Spain.

"Its been a super important and key year for me because Ive made a lot of progress. Ive done things real well. But this has to be just the beginning for me. I know I can keep improving. Im working on it and I expect bigger things for myself," the 20-year-old, whose parents hail from Montenegro and Spain, continued. "Last year I worked real well and current Lakers assistant coach Ettore Messina helped me. This year, theres a lot of expectations on me. I have to keep improving in several areas--most notably defense and some tactical stuff. Time will tell, but I hope I can help Real Madrid any way I can.

"I always think team first. Our goal is to contend for every title. We didnt start in the best possible way at the Supercup, we couldnt win it, but we have the ACB League, the Cup, the Euroleague," he added. "As for myself, I dont know what to tell you. Being 20, you cant just focus on improving one or two things. I have to improve in every area."

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Bulls get hot from 3, Kris Dunn bounces back in win over Cavs to snap skid

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USA TODAY

Bulls get hot from 3, Kris Dunn bounces back in win over Cavs to snap skid

The Bulls are in the win column for 2019 after a decisive 104-88 win over the NBA-worst Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday. Here are four observations from the Martin Luther King Day victory.

3-point happy Bulls get it done

The Bulls would have made Fred Hoiberg proud on Monday afternoon. Though it came against the league’s worst defense the Bulls will take what they can get, and against the Cavaliers they had their way from beyond the arc.

Ten Bulls saw double-digit minutes on Monday afternoon and eight different players made a 3-pointer. The Bulls finished 15 of 30 from beyond the arc, the most triples they’ve hit under Jim Boylen. This came after a Saturday performance in which they made 12 3-pointers against the Heat. They’ve tallied 12+ triples in consecutive games for the first time since early November, which is certainly a step in the right direction.

Lauri Markkanen led the way with three 3-pointers, and he’s now got 15 triples in his last four games; that’s the most for him in any four-game span since he had 18 in a four-game stretch last January. This comes on the heels of a four-game stretch in which Markkanen made two triples, so it’s nice to see him getting back in rhythm, regardless of the opponent.

Bobby Portis got hot early and finished with a trio of triples as well. Jabari Parker continued his hot stretch as well, and Kris Dunn made his first triple since the first quarter of the Golden State game 10 days ago. It’s important to note that this came against the Cavaliers, but for one night the Bulls played to their strengths and nearly reached a season-high in 3-point makes. Baby steps.

Kris Dunn inches his way back

Kris Dunn admitted Saturday that he’s struggling. Well, playing the Cavaliers is usually a recipe for success when it comes to slump-busting, and Dunn made the most of an ugly Cleveland backcourt.

He finished with a modest 13 points and nine assists and also added two steals. The biggest numbers of note were the 3-pointer he made and the trip to the free throw line he took, his first since the second quarter of the Lakers game last week.

Dunn was aggressive, engaged defensively and hit the glass well with four defensive rebounds. The three turnovers weren’t great but the Bulls as a whole struggled, turning it over 18 times. It didn’t matter against the lowly Cavs but it will moving forward. Like the Bulls and their 3-pointers, baby steps for Dunn as he looks to work his way out of this slump.

Cam Payne wasn’t good, but we guess he wasn’t bad either?

If for nothing else, Cam Payne was entertaining on Monday. He got hot early in the second quarter by connecting on a 3-pointer and a floater, and he playfully (we think?) jawed at the Bulls bench on the way down the floor.

Payne wasn’t bad, finishing with 11 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals in 25 minutes. But he also made a couple awful decisions, had an airball and treated us to this crisp pass to the Cleveland bench. He made 4 of 11 shots, including 1 of 5 from deep, and finished a +2 thanks to that quick run for the second unit in the second quarter.

Payne will get a loud reception in six days when the Cavaliers make a trip to the United Center on Sunday.

Potential for more wins?

Look away, Zion Williamson fans. The Bulls may be in line for a few more victories going forward. They earned win No. 11 against the Cavs on Sunday and will host the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday. Atlanta has played much better of late, earning wins over the Sixers and Thunder in the last few weeks, but they’re still 6-19 on the road this season. Then the Cavaliers come to town on Sunday, with a difficult matchup against the Clippers sandwiched in between.

The Bulls should be favored in both the Atlanta and Cleveland game, meaning there’s a real shot the Bulls could have a 3-1 record when they hit the road for Brooklyn on Monday. Don’t look now but a couple wins could be on the horizon.

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Reaction to Zach LaVine's comments after 10th straight loss

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NBC Sports Chicago

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Reaction to Zach LaVine's comments after 10th straight loss

Matt Peck, David Watson and John Sabine feel the Heat after Dwyane Wade and Co. hand the Bulls their 10th straight defeat. Plus, they react to LaVine's comments on the state of the Bulls (1:30), how they feel about stars speaking out (4:55) and Matt wants a new coach next season (6:48).
How can the Bulls attract free agents to this losing culture to improve on their young core (11:35)? Plus, why does it feel like the Bulls get more criticism than the Knicks (16:02)?

The big story was D-Wade's farewell game at the United Center. Watson explains why he's pro-Wade (18:30). Peck provides the rebuttal (19:29). Finally, Watson notes that Markkanen may be struggling to find chemistry with Kris Dunn (25:10).

Don't forget, you can watch Bulls Outsiders after Bulls Postgame Live on NBC Sports Chicago following every game. You can also stream the show on Facebook Live and interact with Matt, John and David.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.